The long-awaited autobiography of perhaps the greatest golfer of all time is one of the most highly anticipated sports books of the year.
- Random House Audio Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Abridged, 3 CDs
- Product dimensions:
- 5.64(w) x 4.87(h) x 0.98(d)
Read an Excerpt
Everyone I shook hands with at the reunion seemed to have a delightful "Arnie Palmer" story to tell me. That's how the homefolks know me--"Arnie" rather than "Arnold." Many of these tales I'd heard before; others I'd somehow forgotten or--here's the amusing part--maybe never even knew.
We reminisced about the two-room schoolhouse in Youngstown where many of us went for eight grades before catching the trolley to high school in Latrobe, and someone remembered how on snowy days a gang of neighborhood kids would always come to our little house off the sixth fairway, where my mother would give everybody hot chocolate. Someone else--an old teammate from my abbreviated days on the gridiron--reminded me of how passionate my father was about my not playing football, stopping just shy of dragging me off the football field at Latrobe High because he thought football was the quickest way on earth to get permanently injured. A woman I hadn't seen since the tenth grade remembered how I was so unspeakably shy in Miss Jones's public speaking class that she forced me to stand before the class and asked me to explain the importance of making solid eye contact with the people I was addressing--something, come to think of it, I always try to do to this day. Another man recalled watching Winnie and me roll out
of town one afternoon in 1955, pulling a small trailer behind our two-door Ford, headed for my first year on the Tour. I decided not to tell this man his memory was off a bit, that we didn't actually buy the trailer he remembers in Latrobe. In fact, we bought the trailer outside Phoenix, Arizona, and returned home with it only at the end of the golf season, literallycoasting down the last hill into Latrobe with a Ford whose engine was nearly shot from hauling that damned little house on wheels. "That's right," I told him, not wishing to disappoint him by correcting his memory. "That's the same trailer Winnie insisted we park and never use again."
The stories flowed on and on, and each one, I must say, almost without my being aware of it, began to ease my worry. There was a lot of laughter and joking around, and a few tears shed, and all I could think as I made my way around the room to shake hands and share embraces and spin reminiscences was how my own parents would have thoroughly enjoyed being at this party. Pap, as we called my father, would have enjoyed the rough-and-tumble stories of life in old Latrobe, and my mother, given her deep compassion for people, would have known most if not all of the names of everybody in the building--and I daresay many of their most touching family stories, too.
That's small-town life for you. Perhaps not as true today as it once was in America, but still true in my hometown and perhaps yours, too.
When the room quieted and I finally stood up to speak, I must say, my emotions nearly got the better of me. I briefly hesitated. But then I quickly recovered and the thoughts just seemed to stream straight from my heart to my lips. I thanked everyone for coming and specifically thanked Dolores Pohland for allowing me to copy off her paper so many years ago, thereby permitting me to graduate from Latrobe High--the room rocked with laughter at this. Then I admitted to them that for a number of reasons, some public and some private, I'd been shy about hosting the reunion and a bit worried about what I would say to everybody. I told them this was one of the most special evenings of my life. "We've all gone a lot of places since our days growing up here in Latrobe," I said, looking at as many faces as I could. "And if there's one thing I've learned in all those years, it's this: Your hometown is not where you're from. It's who you are."
They seemed to really appreciate this remark, applauding vigorously. When they quieted down again, I explained to them that this was why I still made Latrobe my home and would always come back, as I put it, until they spread my ashes out there somewhere near my Pap's on one of the club's fairways.
Everybody laughed again. But they knew I couldn't have been more serious.
Then I thanked them for coming and gave them all umbrella pins, making everybody official members of Arnie's Army.
I should have known that Winnie would be right. The proper words had come to me in the nick of time, and I was deeply grateful for having been able to say them. A short while later, with the band going full tilt, we slipped out of the clubhouse and walked to our car in the darkness.
"You did pretty well," she said with that way she has of gently sticking the needle in me but also somehow meaning it.
"I did, didn't I?" I said, again with mock surprise. I was really pleased that what I had wanted to say had managed to come out all right.
Winnie patted my hand reassuringly.
Remembering one's life, someone said, is to live twice. If that's true, I realize I've been fortunate enough to live many lifetimes since I was a small boy following his dad around the fairways of Latrobe Country Club, that once-upon-a-time place where this tale really begins. Or maybe it really begins someplace before that.
In any case, on the drive back down the hill to home and bed, I was thinking fondly about all the wonderful stories that had been swapped that clear September night. I loved hearing every one of them. The funny thing is, I hear these stories all over the world now. A few of them are even true.
Of course, I have a few of my own to tell. If you have a little while, I'd like to tell you some of them.
and post it to your social network
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